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July 30, 2020

Pakistanis dejected over Haj restrictions this year

National

July 30, 2020

KARACHI: Every year, some 200,000 Pakistanis travel to Mecca to perform the Hajj, with some even spending all their savings to fulfill their religious duty. But this year, they can only watch a subdued Hajj on their TV screens, foreign media reported.

The six-day annual pilgrimage started in the Muslim holy city of Makkah on Tuesday under strict coronavirus restrictions that have prevented millions of people from attending the holy ritual. Last year, around 2.5 million Muslims from all over the world participated in the Haj.

The kingdom has allowed only around 1,000 people to perform the Haj this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected at least 16.4 million people globally and killed more than 654,000. Saudi Arabia has so far reported more than 270,000 COVID-19 cases and over 2,700 deaths

Authorities in Riyadh imposed a strict lockdown when the first coronavirus cases emerged in March. They only started to ease restrictions in May, albeit with a high degree of caution.

Many Pakistanis who had applied for the pilgrimage were hopeful that the pandemic would subside before the Haj. The crisis, however, is far from over, and these people feel dejected by the situation. At the same time, hundreds of people working in the Haj traveling business have incurred huge financial losses.